Last Night's TV: Heroes, BBC2
The Baron, ITV1

There aren't many stories that wouldn't be improved by the addition of a few superpowers, preferably in conjunction with skin-tight costumes and masks, but I'm not going to be dogmatic about that. All that "from his mother's womb untimely ripped" nonsense at the end of Macbeth, for example: much more satisfying for Macduff to pull out a hunk of green kryptonite, thereby depriving Macbeth of the super-strength and invulnerability that have got him where he is. Wouldn't it be a breath of fresh air if Mr Darcy disclosed that the reason he's been acting so cold is that he had to protect his secret identity, and was wary of Elizabeth Bennet cottoning on to the fact that he has the proportionate strength and agility of a genetically modified spider? And there isn't a single short story by Raymond Carver that doesn't scream for the presence of a band of costumed mutant vigilantes, preferably ones who've been trained in a lost oriental martial art.

Heroes, though: Heroes sometimes feels a mite cluttered, superpower-wise. Returning viewers may recall that some winnowing seemed to have gone on at the end of the last series, when sensitive, brown-eyed Peter Petrelli (secret power: can copy everyone else's powers) inadvertently turned himself into a human atomic bomb and then went off, apparently taking his smoothie-chops brother Nathan (secret power: flying) with him. But nothing is ever that clear-cut in the world of superheroes. When you've stripped them of their powers, dropped a building on their heads or sent them hurtling into the heart of the sun, following it up with a full-page illustration of their headstone complete with roses wilting atop a mound of fresh earth, that's when they're at their most dangerous.

The new season had barely started when Nathan turned up; but this is a new, sadder and possibly wiser Nathan – you can tell because he now hangs around in bars with a really bushy beard. Which is, I ought to clarify, attached to his face. So, what, we're supposed to believe that a small thing such as blowing up in a cloud of radioactivity would hurt Peter? Sure enough, there he was, chained up half-naked in a freight container in Cork, surrounded by mean-looking men with rubbish Irish accents; they suspected him of having made off with a cargo of iPods they were planning to half-inch, returning to the scene of the crime to chain himself up and feign amnesia. The whole superpower bit is by no means the least plausible part of Heroes.

Meanwhile, Claire, the cheerleader (secret power: regenerates after any injury), has gone into hiding with her family in California. Dad Noah (secret power: can say lines such as "I love you more than anything in the world, Claire-bear" without puking) is working as assistant manager at a copy-store, which, by the way, looks like a pretty sweet deal, what with the big house and the big car it's paying for, and plotting against the evil, superhero-enslaving Company. Mohinder, the earnest doctor (secret power: ability to intone appallingly sententious voice-over), is roaming the country lecturing on superpowers, and fending off the attentions of a nerdy Company rep (secret power: can turn teaspoons into gold, which makes you wonder why he needs a job with the evil guys). Nice Matt, the copper (secret power: reads minds), is retraining with the New York police, and caring for little Molly (secret power: can find people with superpowers). Everybody's favourite character, Hiro (secret power: can bend the space-time continuum), has accidentally transported himself to 17th-century Japan, where he met his samurai hero, Takezo Kensei, who turned out, blow me down, to be an unheroic Englishman. Back in the present, Hiro's father (secret identity: Mr Sulu from Star Trek), and Nathan's mother (secret power: is a real bitch) are receiving death threats...

This is, by any standards, enough to be going on with. But no, we also have to follow the panic-filled, faintly incestuous relationship of mysterious Latin American twins Alejandro and Maya (secret power – look away now if you didn't cheat and watch episode two on digital: bleeding from eyes while those in vicinity keel over dead). Somebody out there has the secret power of being able to generate limitless numbers of ludicrous plotlines, and they've forgotten the great lesson taught us by The Amazing Spider-Man many years ago: with great power comes great responsibility. But who am I kidding? I'll be watching it again next week.

After this profusion of stories, The Baron has an appealing high-concept simplicity: celebrities woo a village for votes to win the genuine hereditary title of Baron of Troup. The complication is that the best they can do in the way of celebs is Suzanne Shaw, a veteran of ITV talent contests, Mike "Frank Butcher" Reid (whose death last summer led to the series being shelved), and the punk Svengali Malcolm McLaren – all a disappointment to the villagers of Gardenstown in north-east Scotland, who were thinking in terms of Sean Connery, and who are an unusually devout set of people. It is silly and exploitative in several ways, but Malcolm McLaren being told by his hosts how much joy it would give them to see him accept the Lord Jesus in his heart: you cannot put a price on a sight such as that.

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable